Every endorser of the GND thereby endorses its claim to life-and-death urgency, yet — cognitive dissonance alert — every endorser knows that none of it will happen. Its authors say, “There is no time to waste.” Strange. The last Democratic administration, which departed just 25 months ago, proposed approximately none of what the GND says we cannot survive without.
The GND has no practical importance but much significance. First, it underscores the rise of the politics of gestures that are as flamboyant as they are empty: Donald Trump has his wall, the left has its GND. Second, it reprises the progressive desire to militarize everything but the military, to conscript everyone into vast collective undertakings that supposedly justify vast excisions from personal liberty and the setting side of pesky constitutional impediments. See Franklin Roosevelt’s call in his first inaugural address for power “as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.”
Third, the GND reveals progressives’ embrace of Trump’s political style, a stew of frivolity and mendacity. Remember his campaign boast that he would erase the national debt — not just the budget deficit, the then–$19 trillion debt — in eight years, meaning by more than $2 trillion a year?